For a sensible, ecological, low cost cooling solution, how did an evaporative or swamp cooler get misnamed a portable air conditioner, no vent required when it's not a real AC at all?
As soon as summer comes around, people will need efficient ways to cool themselves down.
We all know that regular air conditioners can do this very effectively, that cool comfort comes at a price. Electricity costs keep rising, so it makes sense to find a more economical cooling solution.
This is why some people opt for portable evaporative coolers to meet their needs.
Evaporative Air Coolers
These small, free standing coolers on wheels look very much like portable air conditioners with no vent hose attachment to remove the exhaust hot air. The reason they don't need a vent hose is because they don't produce any hot air, unlike regular AC units.
What are evaporative coolers exactly? How do they work? What makes them better than regular air conditioners in some respects and not in others?
In this article, I look at all these points and reveal the true attraction of evaporative (swamp) coolers as well as what lets them down badly in certain circumstances.
What is a Ventless Portable Air Conditioner?
Unvented or ventless portable air conditioners are compact cooling units that cool a space without having an exhaust hose that would need attaching to a window.
They are not true air conditioners, despite the popular name given them, but instead are evaporative air coolers (otherwise known as swamp coolers).
No Exhaust Vent Hose
This lack of needing a vent hose feature makes these coolers exceptionally portable, since they do not need to be attached to anything so you can move them from one place to another easily whenever you need to.
Unlike window or portable AC units, these coolers do not require any kind of fixed installation. They can be set up very easily with no need to hire a professional.
Swamp coolers, or ventless air conditioners perform best in environments where the air is dry (low to very low humidity).
How Does a Ventless Portable Air Conditioner Work?
Evaporative coolers function very differently, differentiating them from a portable air conditioner no vent is therefore needed.
In a true vented AC unit, warm air is taken from inside the room, chilled and recirculated back into the room, while hot air produced by the compressor is exhausted through the vent hose to the fresh air outside.
AC units use a refrigerant-based mechanism to cool down the air to the desired temperature inside the room.
No Compressor or Refrigerant
On the other hand, a ventless evaporative cooler does not use a refrigerant-based system or compressor and as such does not require a hose to vent hot air from the room.
This means there is no need to install it close to a window where a fixed vent kit would be installed.
Instead, these air coolers use a tank of water, absorbent media and a powerful fan to cool down the warm air inside the room.
The method used is actually quite simple.
The machine draws the warm air in from the room and forces it through a spongy damp medium. The moisture evaporates, absorbing the heat from the air molecules and the air that is blown out from the unit is now chilled and cools down the room's air.
Because it uses the natural cooling process of evaporation, swamp coolers eliminates the need for the hose for heat exhaust.
The water reservoir is generally located at the base of the cooler. Some models use pumps to keep the cooling pads damp, while others use simple capillary action for the water to soak the media that has its lower end situated below the water level.
Additionally, many evaporative air cooler models can use ice in the water tank to provide colder air.
To enjoy the most efficient results, it is best to keep an evaporative air cooler near an open window or door to make use of fresh outdoor air as well as allowing for good air circulation in the room.
Benefits and Disadvantages of Ventless Portable Air Conditioners
There are several important benefits of swamp or evaporative coolers (or vent free portable air conditioners) as well as disadvantages that you need to know about, that I will cover here.
- As swamp coolers do not have an exhaust system or vent hoses, these air coolers are fully portable They do not need to be permanently installed
- You do not need a professional installer to set them up
- With low energy consumption while in operation, these coolers are eco-friendly
- The fan uses between 100 to 200 watts of electricity, saving you money
- No compressor or refrigeration process to cool and blow the air
- No parts exposed to the environment, so there is nothing to be waterproofed
- They add moisture to the air, perfect for use in dry, arid areas
- They require minimum maintenance
- Swamp coolers will not work well in humid conditions, requiring below 50% humidity to cool the air
- The units can get heavy when the tank is full of water and difficult to move
- They do not dry the air like air conditioners
- They do raise the humidity inside a room unless there is ample ventillation from an open window
If you live in an area that has predominantly dry heat in summer, or very low levels of humidity, an evaporative cooler will work very well for you to keep you cool without using much electricity.
If, on the other hand you live in an area with high humidity during hot weather, you would be better advised to buy a true, refrigerant-based air conditioner to keep cool. They may cost a lot more to run, but they will work even in high humidity, whereas a swamp cooler will not.
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